We never sent Christmas cards out when I was growing up. Our family is tiny so there was no one to send them to. …So I’m not sure where the idea of sending Christmas cards came from, really. But I can remember as a teenager scraping together cash so I could buy my first pack of cards. They were Hallmark cards (so fancy) with a picture of mugs of cocoa and a heartwarming sentiment inside. Feeling it needed to be “Christmasier”, I also handfed the cards through our inkjet printer to add Robert Frost’s poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to the interior of the card.
Teenaged Lauren, you were such a dork.
I sent the cards to my far-flung friends that first year. Everyone seemed tickled by the sentiment… probably because I’m such a geek. The next year, my list quintupled. (Gotta love the in-laws!) OH MAN. CARDS FOR EVERYONE!
One year, I handmade cards. Like I said – Lauren of back then was a total dork. I did not realize what a huge undertaking it was going to be. Still, they didn’t turn out so bad!
(I haven’t done it since.) (I usually go to Papyrus after the new year and scoop up cards in bulk at 70% off.) (I hope not paying full price at Papyrus doesn’t ruin the Christmas magic, in-laws.) (Parentheses are like secrets in writing, right?)
I know it’s antiquated, especially in this digital age. But I like it. I enjoy sitting in front of the TV and writing until my hands are sore. The sense of accomplishment at throwing fistfuls of cards into the mail… So good. This year we got a stamp for our return address and stickers to seal the envelopes, so I think I’ve hit peak Christmas card lady.
I don’t have a lot of traditions. But this one is mine.
Step 1: Approximate the area where your tree will live for the season. It’s just like that old saying – location, location, location! You want something central to your living space, but out of the way enough that it’s comfortable to navigate around and sit near.
Step 2: Clear away any furniture or fragile pieces from the area where you’ll be working on the tree set up. Sure, things will be discombobulated for a few weeks but, hey, ’tis the season!
Step 3: Gather up those ornaments and sort them by color and by type. No one likes to get the entire tree decorated and realize they forgot their handblown German gingerbread man ornaments! It would be like leaving the house without your pearls on!
Step 4: Get yourself in the holiday mood! Put on some Christmas music. Get yourself some mulled wine. Oh, you should put on that Christmas classic you have on DVD.
Step 5: Fall asleep on the couch watching the movie. Wine is warm and tasty. Just give in to that comfortable feeling. Catch some Zzzs! You deserve it!
Step 6: Dream of adventure. Dream of fire and wind and the earth below your feet as you run. You see the city in the distance, peeking out of clouds and mist. You call to the skies. You feel a strength inside you that you’ve never known in the dreary, grey day-to-day of your waking world. You see your friends and you call to them. You can laugh with them and see them and walk with them like you haven’t in years. They haven’t aged a day and neither have you. It is joyful. When evil comes to threaten them, your anger is palpable. You take your sword and shield and fight for them. You can fly. You can fly, dammit. Why haven’t you been flying? How did you miss that this was something you could do? It’s just like second nature. You start to fight. You are strong. You never feel fatigued. You just feel strong. You fight some more and you win. A talking bear tells you that you did a good job. The wreckage of the battle resembles your high school, but, somehow, like, it’s not really? You’re in your underwear.
I have been employed since I was 15. A lot of those hours have been spent listening to holiday music as I plucked away at a cash register, helping relieve holiday shoppers of their well earned cash in exchange for goods. It’s not a bad gig. But the music used to drive me crazy. Take for example the song Christmas Shoes.
A sappy song with an unrealistic sappy premise. Every time it would come on, which was once every two hours (that’s called a POWER PUSH in the radio world), I would scream out and claw at the sky. I hated everything about it. It wasn’t upbeat. It wasn’t joyous. It was just a goddamn downer. The opening notes actually make my shoulder sink towards the ground. Patton Oswalt has a great bit where he tears apart the song and everything about it, so I won’t rehash that.
I know the holidays for some folks are a goddamn downer. But part of what makes Christmas great is that the season itself can be infused with so much goofiness and cheer, you can’t help but crack a smile. I submit to you the song (and this charming video) for Dominick the Donkey. There’s so much cheese in the song you could sustain my husband for a year. (…okay so that joke didn’t quite land. I’ll work on it.)
You are smiling right now, right? Awesome. What a great song. It embodies everything about the spirit of the holiday season that is fun and joyous. Also, horse mask, am I right?
So I submit to you my contribution. I made this some years ago, after watching the Ludachristmas episode of 30 Rock, one of my all time favorite sitcoms. (If you haven’t watched it, do yourself a favor: make it your next show you watch over a weekend in sweats.)
There should be balance in the universe. For every Christmas Shoes, a Dominick the Donkey. With that in mind, here’s my weird mashup/parody/whatever, This Ludachristmas.